Scientists are close to testing a genetically engineered "magic bullet" that could treat half of the most common cancers, New Scientist magazine said Wednesday.
Early laboratory tests have shown that the "bullets," which destroy the tumors by injecting them with a deadly toxin, were effective in treating adenocarcinomas that are found in lung, ovary, prostate, colon and breast cancers.
Clinical trials with colon cancer sufferers could begin within 15 months.
A magic bullet treatment targets the cancerous cells without harming any of the healthy cells around them -- unlike chemotherapy, which can harm healthy cells and result in serious side effects.
"Medical Targeting Recognition Technologies, the Jerusalem-based company that developed the 'bullets,' say they might work better than other such treatments because their toxins actually penetrate cancer cells," the magazine said.
Earlier attempts at the approach failed because the antibodies on the "bullets" found the cancerous cells but could not penetrate and destroy them without harming healthy cells as well.